Thursday, 4 March 2010

Civil Partnership Ceremonies

Traditionalists fear clergy could be taken to court and accused of discrimination if they reject requests to hold civil partnership ceremonies or "gay marriages" on religious premises. This would apply to churches, mosques and synagogues. The warning follows a landmark vote by peers in the House of Lords that would allow the ceremonies to be held in all places of worship. What would you and the priests under your jurisdiction do if you were asked to marry homosexual and lesbian couples? - Clare
Our position remains unaltered. It will not happen. Nothing could prevail upon us to go against scripture on this matter. Under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, homosexual couples are allowed to hold civil partnership ceremonies in register offices and approved venues such as stately homes and hotels, but they were banned from doing so in churches while the events were not allowed to be religious in character. In the amendment to Harriet Harman’s controversial Equality Bill tabled by Lord Alli late on Monday night, the ban on religious premises was lifted. It was passed on a free vote by 95 to 21, with only two of the bishops – the Lords Spiritual – taking part. The amendment stated: “For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.” But the fear is that the protection from discrimination in the "provision of goods or services" guaranteed in the Equality Bill will mean that homosexuals could take legal action against clergy who refused to hold the ceremonies in their church. 
Waheed Alli aka "Baron" Alli, pictured above, whose amendment to the Equality Bill in effect amends the Civil Partnership Act, making it legal under secular law for churches to celebrate civil partnerships and "marry" homosexual and lesbian couples. Alli is a multi-millionaire media entrepreneur and politician who sits in the House of Lords as Labour Peer "Lord" Alli. Born in 1964 of Indo-Caribbean parents, Waheed Alli is openly homosexual and also a Muslim. He has used, some might say abused, his political position to further "gay rights" and constantly campaign on behalf of homosexual causes. 
The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David James, warned during the debate of the “unintended consequences” of this amendment. He said that although it was being presented to “simply be an available option” to some religious groups, he was “not so confident” that it would remain so. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, said: “I believe it will open, not the Church of England, but individual clergy, to charges of discrimination.” Lord Waddington, the former Home Secretary, said a clergyman “prepared to register marriages but not to register civil partnerships would be accused of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of services.” The vote was nonetheless welcomed by equality campaigners such as Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, the joint chairman of the Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism, who said his community was “looking forward to being able to celebrate its first ever Jewish spiritual blessing together with the English legal ceremony.” Quakers and Unitarians predictably also intend to hold homosexual and lesbian "marriage" ceremonies on their premises. 
My clergy and I seek the repeal of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 which enacted recommendations that allowed for the first time in Great Britain homosexual acts and sodomitical practices between consenting males and married couples. Hitherto it had been a criminal offence for either heterosexuals or homosexuals to engage in sodomy. An amendment in 2000 reduced the age restriction to sixteen. Waheed Alli played no small part in that appalling decision. I and my clergy, therefore, would like to restore the status quo to how it was prior to 1967. We shall add our weight to any Christian group campaigning in that regard, ie for the restoration of traditional family values with morals based on the New Testament.

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